Sustainability @ Sketchbook

Efforts which Sketchbook has taken to reduce our carbon footprint and brew 'green' include: 

Installation of a large cold water tank to use for chilling fermentors and cooling hot wort as it moves from the boil stage to fermentation temperatures. Many breweries use tap water and waste a good deal of water (and energy) in this cooling process. A cold water reservoir allows us to reuse this water in a closed system which recirculates, saving both water and energy.

Using a heat exchanger (located on the outside of our building) in order to take advantage of Chicago’s seasonal weather. This will be installed once the brew system is up and running, later this year (hopefully before the weather gets too bad). By pumping water to be heated or cooled through this exchanger, we would utilize ambient temperatures to cool our cold water in winter and pre-heat water in the summer. This will decrease our usage of natural gas and electricity--and will substantially reduce the carbon footprint of your beer.

Composting our spent grains using a variety of end-users including farms. Our Hewn bakery bakes bread with our beer...and our grains!

Sketchbook Beer Bread rising at Hewn Bakery in Evanston

Sketchbook Beer Bread rising at Hewn Bakery in Evanston


Our approach: While the idea of a nanobrewery was sparked by Cesar & Shawn's love of making truly great-tasting, high-quality beers, Sketchbook also has a commitment to local production and consumption.  We're brewing for our neighbors.

Plans for Action: Sketchbook Brewing Company focuses on local and direct sales within our community through refillable growler sales directly from the brewery, discounts to customers who walk or bicycle to us, and keg sales to local restaurants. We also participate and collaborate with the numerous other Evanston-based profit and nonprofit organizations whose mission it is to promote sustainable living options within our community.

Looking for Regular Customers who Walk or Bike By:   We have grown a regular local customer base by establishing a Community Supported Brewery inspired by our pals Begyle Brewing in Ravenswood.  A Community Supported Brewery is a membership-driven business model, where customers pay a fee that entitles them to a certain amount of beer each month.  

Why Sustainability Matters: Like the CSA and the Farm-to-Table movement, local breweries are first and foremost sustainable by their essential local nature. In a recent study, the New Belgium Brewery, a leader in sustainable practices, tracked a 6-pack of their beer through all stages of production and distribution. They discovered that by far the largest percentage of the carbon footprint of this six-pack came from the refrigeration and consumer transportation within the retail store (28%).

By producing beer locally on a small scale, selling it fresh to significantly lower refrigeration, and selling primarily to the local residents of a community, Sketchbook's local focus avoids carbon-intensive refrigeration, transportation, and packaging. And when our customers reuse our snazzy growlers over and over, they are helping eliminate the significant carbon cost associated with packing beer in one-time use bottles. 

Sustainability is collaboration: Sketchbook's interest in sustainable production practices and our plan to develop innovative small scale production systems will allow us to partner with other like-minded Evanston businesses in developing unique opportunities for development and collaboration. Sketchbook was created by homebrewers who naturally innovate every step of the way. We strive to create new processes and tools to make this a one-of-a-kind sustainable and eco-friendly brewery, and share them with others.

For instance, traditional recipes are often seasonal (having been developed before refrigeration), and by their nature are designed to use seasonal ambient temperatures, something we will endeavor to replicate within a modern context to minimize energy usage. This might mean some "unorthodox" approaches to cooling and heating using ambient temperatures, etc. compared to "big beer," we view it as returning to our roots.